SEA-ARI grades: Solid grade for RB Christine Michael, despite poor O-line play
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Seahawks’ 36-6 win over the Cardinals in Week 17:
– WR Tyler Lockett (+0.1) had a quiet game as a receiver after seeing just four targets (his lowest total since Week 12), which resulted in two catches for 36 yards. One of those catches was an impressive first down conversion, as he beat CB Justin Bethel deep on the post (second quarter, 11:07), but most of his impact instead came on special teams, where he graded at +3.5 on punt returns. Lockett had gains of of 66, 42, and 31 yards on three straight punts during a three-minute stretch late in the second quarter, forcing multiple missed tackles on those plays. His work set up two scoring drives that gained a combined 34 yards, turning a moderate 17-6 lead for the Seahawks into a 30-6 blowout at halftime.
– In the Week 10 meeting between these teams, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett finished with a combined +11.9 overall grade. They didn’t quite match that on Sunday, but both still had dominant performances, as has been the case for most of the season. Bennett started well, destroying LG Mike Iupati inside on the first play of the game for a hit on Carson Palmer, and for the rest of the game neither C Lyle Sendlein (-6.0) nor RG Ted Larsen (-6.5) provided much resistance. He finished with eight total pressures in 32 pass rushes, while Avril also rushed 32 times, getting in on two sacks, in addition to a hit and two batted passes.
– RB Christine Michael had another solid game to move him up to +4.1 overall in his three games back with Seattle. He gained 102 yards on 17 carries (6 yards per), but what was most impressive was that more than 90 of those yards came after contact. Five forced missed tackles also helped mask a subpar run blocking performance from his offensive line—four of Seattle’s five starting linemen finished with a negative run blocking grade, collectively grading below -9.0 there.
DE Michael Bennett (+5.5)
DE Cliff Avril (+3.1)
S Earl Thomas (+2.1)
CB Jeremy Lane (+1.8)
RB Christine Michael (+1.9)
– QB Carson Palmer (+0.7) only lasted one half, and in that time had an inconsistent performance—he made some solid throws, especially at intermediate distance, where he finished five-for-nine with a +2.7 raw grade. But otherwise, he looked off target and out of sync with his receivers. He saw pressure on 44 percent of his dropbacks, which resulted in inaccuracy, especially on deep passes, where he finished zero-for-four. Palmer had two turnover-worthy throws, one of which was indeed picked in the first quarter (4:42). On the play, Larry Fitzgerald was cut off by S Earl Thomas (+2.9), but Palmer didn’t account for Jeremy Lane, who read and broke on the throw.
– LB/DE Alex Okafor topped his +2.5 game last week with a new season-high +3.3 overall grade. He played well in both facets, collecting six pressures and two defensive stops. Almost all of his work came against right tackle Garry Gilliam (-3.7)—check out his play at 2:59 of the second quarter to force a cut in run defense. Later in the quarter (0:42), Okafor beat Gilliam outside to hit Russell Wilson as he was throwing, forcing an incompletion.
– Arizona also saw a strong game from running back David Johnson, but it was more due to his work as a receiver. As a rusher, he gained just 25 yards on 11 carries—19 of those yards coming after contact—as the team’s offensive line struggled against Seattle’s front seven (-9.4 combined run blocking). In the passing game, he was a check down option for Palmer and gained a first down on each of his three receptions, totaling 34 yards with a broken tackle on one of them. Not the greatest day overall, but Johnson certainly finished the season strong, with a combined +9.4 overall grade over the last four games.
LB Alex Okafor (+3.3)
LB Deone Bucannon (+1.9)
LB Dwight Freeney (+1.7)
S D.J. Swearinger (+1.4)
RB David Johnson (+1.3)